I always knew I was different and it wasn’t my physical disabilities that made me different from other people. I acted much different and liked different things. I was different in how I viewed and understood the world around me. I was a rebel, but not in a way that you think. I was not a trouble maker, but a truth seeker. Despite having two impaired senses, I sought to see and understand the world as it truly was and not how it appeared to be. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of things that did not please me. People liked to copy each other and rejected living like their true selves. We are all different and unrepeatable and yet I saw people trying to make themselves repeatable and trying to fit some kind of a mold or set of standards that stemmed from the ideas of media and pop culture. If the majority of people were going left, I would go right and if they stepped forward, I stepped back. As much as I tried to be like the majority, it never felt right. To conform to the ways of others felt very unnatural to me and as much as I tried to fit in, I could never manage to do it.
As a child, I was classified as being weird and I had hardly any friends. I spent much of my high school career studying and when I look back, I wish I had not taken my studies so seriously and had a little more fun. My social life was on the verge of extinction. My idea of having a good time on a Friday night was doing trigonometry. I had a hunger for knowledge and loved to think. I often retreated in my own little world, which was fun because not only did I know all the people there, but I was very well-liked.
At 34, I still feel like an outsider looking in, but even more so as a Roman Catholic. Why is this? Well, it seems that my Catholic contemporaries are light years ahead of me. They are either married or in religious life. I still have no clue what my calling is. My mother says that the single life is a vocation. Well, I don’t feel like it is because it is not talked about much. The church seems to celebrate the married and religious states of life. I can count the number of never married, single lay Catholics that I know on one hand. When I am in church, most of the female attendees are married and those who are single are widows, so they were married and became single by circumstance. I really don’t know many single lay woman above the age of 30 in my parish.
My whole family is Catholic, but everyone in my family above the age of 30 are married and most of them have children. In fact most of them have two children. That seems to be the magic number in my family. Even my parents are each one of two children. When I am around my family, I feel like I am a leftover on Noah’s Ark. I am the only single person excluding my young cousins, nieces and nephew, who are all under the age of 18. It is really difficult to fit in a family where everyone is grouped into pairs. I even have TWO female birds that are best buddies. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on having two birds though. I thought I would stop at one, but Sunny flew into my life unexpectedly and became part of my family.
Since I made my confirmation, my father has been telling me to enter the convent and become a nun. Whenever I mention that there is a chance that I could get married, he would tell me that the convent is for me. Most parents want their children to be married. My mother doesn’t put any pressure on me to do anything, but I will confess, I often feel pressure from my father to become a nun. I feel guilty that I don’t feel drawn to the religious life, and I honestly don’t understand why I don’t feel any sort of connection to it. It would make perfect sense for me to become a nun or a sister right? I love God, I am active in the church and I am unmarried. There’s my loophole, I should just make my move right? Honestly, something is holding me back. Like in my school days, to go that route doesn’t feel natural to me. It might feel right in the future but not right now. Right now, becoming a nun or a sister, would be going against my own will. But what about God’s will? Aren’t I supposed to conform my will to the will of God? This is the part that always gets me. If in fact our Lord wants for me to become a nun or sister, I don’t want to rebel against Him and His plan for me? People have even told me that our Lord could be speaking through my father, but somehow, I highly doubt that God was speaking through my father when he said: “If you become a nun, then I will go to heaven.”
One of the anxieties I experience as a single lay Catholic is the idea of a “missed vocation”. Did I miss my calling? Did God give me an invitation to follow Him down a certain path that would lead me to my vocation and did I not accept that invitation? Did I miss an opportunity that God provided for me that would ultimately help me decide between married or religious life? I imagine finding my vocation to be like catching a train. I am racing down the train platform to catch it and find that I have missed it. Now I must wait for the next train to come to lead me to my destination, but will there be a next train or was that the last train altogether? Did I totally miss my vocation completely? Am I doomed to live out the rest of my Catholic life trying to catch that train that may never arrive again? That thought makes me feel as useless as an appendix and I don’t even have an appendix! It ruptured in 1996, which was a complete blessing, but that is another story. Anyway, I can only hope that I get a second chance to get on that train. I want so badly to have a purpose. In my school days, I wanted to fit in with my peers, now I seem to struggle with fitting in the Catholic Church. I can’t help but think that my vocation is uniquely my own and being a single lay person will allow me to follow that unique path wherever it may take me. Is it silly to think that?
Besides sharing music, I really want to focus primarily on learning more about my faith and strengthening my relationship with God. Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of attending a Catholic school so I am trying to catch up on my Catholic education. There is so much I do not know, but I am learning a lot. A friend of mine likened me to being a recent convert to the Catholic faith because of my enthusiasm and hunger to learn more about my faith. I often call myself a Born Again Catholic. Yes, I am a cradle catholic but it wasn’t until I was 29 years old, coming out of a deep depression that I spiritually began to shift. I became more involved in my parish and when I was almost 32 years old, my father and I participated in the Charismatic Renewal together. It was here that my faith was completely renewed and set on fire. From that point on, I became more interested in learning more about God and how to strengthen my relationship with Him. Let’s just hope that if I don’t find my spiritual vocation before I leave this earth, our Lord won’t say something like this to me: “Dude! I can’t believe you didn’t figure it out!” If He were to say that to me, I think I would have to say something like: “Lord, you know how clueless I am. Surely you already know that I would never figure it out.”
Despite not knowing for certain what my actual spiritual vocation is, I can, in the meantime, try to live my life focusing on the universal calling: the call to holiness. We are all called to holiness regardless of if you live the single, married or religious life. I hope that each day I live, I live according to God’s will. It isn’t easy you know. I always find myself stumbling a lot. I am far from perfect and need major graces from our Lord to enable me to live intended. Because He loves me so much and died for me, I want no more than to please Him. I have faith that in His own given time, He will reveal His plan for me.